The eco-ethical contribution of Menico Torchio – a forgotten pioneer of European Bioethics

Philosophy, Ethics and Humanities in Medicine 18 (1):1-6 (2023)
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Background In 1926, Fritz Jahr described bio-ethics (German: bio-ethik) as “the assumption of moral obligations not only towards humans, but towards all forms of life.” Jahr summarized his philosophy by declaring, “Respect every living being on principle as an end in itself and treat it, if possible, as such!.” Bioethics was thus originally an ethical system concerned with the “problems of interference with other living beings… and generally everything related to the balance of the ecosystem” according to the 1978 Encyclopedia of Bioethics. This definition was predicated on the work of Fritz Jahr, Menico Torchio, and Van Rensselaer Potter. Methods In order to proceed with depthful analysis of the origin and major bioethical flare up, we will use critical analysis of existing literature, followed by a study trip to relevant bioethical localities (collecting photo and other documentations regarding Menico Torchio). Results While Jahr and Potter are typically given intellectual credit for developing the field of bioethics, the eco-ethical contributions of Menico Torchio have been forgotten.This article will first trace the origins of “bioethics” – now commonly bifurcated into “biomedical ethics” and “environmental bioethics.” The former was developed by Tom Beauchamp from the Philosophy Department and James Childress of the Religious Studies department at Georgetown University and is based on principlism, with a narrow focus on medical settings. The latter addresses the environmental impact of the medical industry and climate change health hazards. Second, we will present a panorama of Torchio’s significant intellectual contribution to bioethics. Menico Torchio’s concept of bioethics synthesized work of both Jahr and Potter, advocating “the need to expand our ethical obligations and embrace the most developed groups of animals, not only physically but also psychologically.” Third, we will reflect on the lasting legacy of “bioethics” on biomedical and environmental bioethics today. Thematic elements such as interconnectedness of planetary health and human health, dedication to living in harmony with nature, and emphasis on systems and symbiosis remain unchanged from the legacy of Tochio onward. Conclusion Our conclusion will underscore the necessity of understanding the connections between planetary, environmental, and human health.



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The Patient as Person.Paul Ramsey & Catherine Lyons - 1972 - Religious Studies 8 (2):187-188.
SJ, How Brave a New World.Richard Mccormick - forthcoming - Dilemmas in Bioethics (Garden City.
Religion and the Secularization of Bioethics.Daniel Callahan - 1990 - Hastings Center Report 20 (4):2-4.

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